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Being a Mom and Following Your Dreams

 

LightWorkers How to Balance Being a Mom and Following Your Dreams.

 This is an article found on https://www.chickensoup.com 

Just because we're moms doesn't mean we have to relinquish our dreams. Here're a few things I've learned along the way as I've achieved my goals and raised a family.

 

We’ve heard it so many times before. After my kids are in school or After my kids move out of the home, I will…

  …go back to school

  …start my own business

  …write that novel

Yet just because we’re moms doesn’t mean we have to give up our dreams. How do I know? I’m a mom of ten kids, and I’ve written dozens of books. From the moment I first started writing, I had kids at home.

I’ve learned a few things about balancing both work and children, and making my dreams possible:

1. Choose your priorities well.

Parenting is all-consuming. We can spend every moment caring for our children and there would be plenty to fill our time. In order to follow your dreams, it’s important to choose your priorities well. Ask, “What is most important?” Then once you choose your priorities, be diligent on cutting out what didn’t make the list.

Caring for our children’s needs and spending quality time with them should always be at the top of our priorities, but there are so many other things that can be cut. You don’t have to sign your child up for every after-school activity or enrichment program, no matter how cool they sound or how much you believe it will benefit your child’s future. Let your children pick one favorite activity and stick with that. Let the rest go. A wise parent is actually one who teaches their kids to focus most on the priorities in their lives, too.

2. Make good use of the fringe hours.

Remember the work needed to follow your dreams doesn’t have to happen 9-5. Maybe you’re a work-outside-the-home mom who is trying to put food on the table. Maybe you’re a work-at-home-mom who finds the hours caring for kids filled to the brim. In both cases, think outside the box.

My best writing happens between 4-6 a.m. Other moms carve out time after their kids go to bed. Some work during nap time or pre-school hours.

If you spend 30-60 minutes a day on planning your dreams—and taking small steps to execute them—the effort will add up! As the months pass, you’ll find yourself stepping toward your dreams in a steady motion. And as you build momentum, it’ll be easier to be motivated to get real work done in these fringe hours.

3. Cut time wasters.

Scrolling Facebook and Instagram, or binging Netflix, takes time away from following your dreams. Also, daily chores consume hours. There are two alternatives, 1) lower your standards a smidgen, or 2) better organize your days.

Remember those daydreams you had as a child? They were there for a reason. They were planted in your heart for a purpose.

Your laundry doesn’t have to be finished and folded every day, and you don’t need to put a healthy, organic meal on the table every night. (Your family will survive, I promise.) Also, doing large chores like shopping once a week, instead of running by the store daily, saves a lot of time. Organize the thirty minutes you save here, or the hour you save there, into time doing something to pursue your dreams.

4. Realize you don't have to do it all now.

 

Following your dreams doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Instead, it can be “this” now and “that” later. Maybe you can’t open a boutique, but perhaps you can start an Etsy store. Maybe you don’t have to launch that epic historical novel, but you can start a blog or podcast. Small goals accomplished are a great foundation to build on in the future.

5. Give yourself permission.

Pursing your dreams is worth your time and effort. Don’t feel guilty! Remember those daydreams you had as a child? They were there for a reason. They were planted in your heart for a purpose. They’re important not only for you, but for your world and for your kids.

When kids see their mom following her dreams they will grow up and do the same. Do you want your kids to use their gifts and talents and step out to do great things? Good! Then be a living model, a visual example. Making the effort to see your dreams come to life will show your children how to do the same.

 

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Empty-Nesters/Retirees

 

 

When the kids are out of the house and retirement is either on the horizon or has arrived, many people think about downsizing. Whether or not that’s true for you, it’s important to recognize that when you retire your accumulated wealth is probably at its peak. Retirement these days can last decades, and age brings on many potential threats to your financial health. There are several steps you can take to ensure your money lasts as long as you do.

Annuities

The demise of traditional pension plans means many retirees face the possibility of outliving their savings. Social Security is a safety net for most people, but it was never meant to be a full retirement plan. To make sure your money—and your lifestyle—will last as long as you do, consider purchasing a lifetime annuity. Think of an annuity as a do-it-yourself pension plan. You provide a lump sum of money to an insurance company and in return you get a guaranteed stream of regular payments for the rest of your life (or for some specified period).

Broadly speaking, annuities come in two varieties: variable and fixed. Variable annuities include an investment component. If those investments do well, your payments will grow over time and your nest egg will be sheltered from inflation. Fees for variable annuities can be high, but they can be the right choice during periods when low interest rates make fixed annuities unattractive.

A fixed annuity is simpler. Your lump-sum savings are translated into a stream of payments that does not change. The size of your payment is based on your age, prevailing interest rates, and, to a certain degree, your gender (women live longer so their payouts are smaller).

There is an annuity calculator at www.bankrate.com that will give you an idea of what kind of payout your can expect. Some companies will allow you to customize an annuity agreement in certain ways at the time of purchase, such as by adding a cost-of-living rider or arranging for payments to continue until both you and your spouse die. Ideally, you should commit only a portion of your retirement savings to an annuity and keep the rest in other types of investments, such as stocks and bonds that can grow over time and protect you from inflation. Having an annuity can give you the freedom to be a little bit more aggressive in your investment accounts, knowing you have a steady source of income to fall back on. If you decide later you want to increase your guaranteed payments, you can take an additional portion of your savings and put it into another annuity. Keep in mind that annuities are not for everyone, and it is always wisest to sit down with your financial advisor who can guide you through the process and help you choose what’s best for your risk tolerance and retirement timeline.

More info on: Annuities

Life Insurance

It may seem counterintuitive that empty nesters or retirees need life insurance, but some still have dependents, such as disabled adult children. Many also still have financial obligations, such as the mortgage on a home or second home, that could become a burden if a spouse died or becomes disabled. More importantly, if you died today, your spouse could outlive you by decades. Would they have to make drastic lifestyle changes to make ends meet? Your death could reduce the Social Security benefits they’d been counting on. It could also bring unplanned medical and funeral expenses.

Life insurance coverage can preserve the retirement plan you worked so hard to put in place and ensure your estate will be passed on, intact, to your survivors. A policy’s death benefit can help foot the estate tax bill from Uncle Sam and provide a legacy for your children and grandchildren, even if you use up most of your assets during your lifetime. For all these reasons, if you’ve been thinking about dropping your life insurance coverage, you may want to reconsider.

What if you’re retired or nearing retirement and you don’t have life insurance? You may think that you’ll no longer qualify due to your age or health conditions you may have. That’s not necessarily the case. Final expense insurance is a form of life insurance that requires little or no underwriting, which means almost anyone can qualify. Policies are available in face amounts typically ranging from several thousand dollars up to a maximum of $50,000 or $75,000—much less than a standard life insurance policy. That’s because these policies are only intended to cover final expenses and not longer-range expenses like ongoing living costs or college and retirement funding.

Final expense insurance typically comes in two varieties. Immediate full benefit policies, which pay the full face value upon your death, are generally available to people with no serious health concerns. Graded benefit policies provide limited benefits during the first few years and are available to people with serious health concerns. These policies can provide the peace of mind of knowing that your survivors won’t struggle to pay for your funeral or be saddled with outstanding medical bills and other debts. To find out more about life insurance and if you need coverage, use our Interactive Planner.

Long-Term Care Insurance

Long-term care insurance usually takes effect when you cannot perform at least two activities of daily living such as bathing, eating or dressing. The cost of this insurance rises as you grow older, but if you don’t have it and can afford it, you should consider it. The cost of home health care aide, an assisted living facility or a nursing home can quickly deplete your life’s savings. Medicaid, a government program, only kicks in once your assets are significantly depleted, and you may not get exactly the care you’re hoping for. To find out more about long-term care insurance and if you need coverage, use our Interactive Planner.

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No Gym Required for These (Financial) Fitness Tips

 

 

If you’re like me, your social-media feeds are jammed with headlines about getting “healthy and fit” in the new year. Of course, they’re referring to diet and exercise and common resolutions to drop pounds and work out more often.

But it’s just as important to be concerned about your financial fitness—where you can also drop some baggage and get some strength training without going near a gym. (In fact, if you have a subscription to a gym membership but aren’t going, that’s one financial fix you can make right now.)

Here are some tips to consider for any age:

IN YOUR 20s:

Workout: Have a portion of each paycheck deposited into your savings account, or take advantage of bank programs that “round up” or have other automated savings features. Trust me, you won’t feel this burn.

Diet: Start making coffee at home or at the office instead of going for expensive lattes. Fewer calories, and more money in your pocket. This is a good time to consider getting life insurance (whether you are single or attached) as it is less expensive the younger and healthier you are.

You also need to consider disability insurance, which pays you a portion of your salary if you are sick or injured and unable to work—because who would pay your bills if you couldn’t? Your work may offer this as an employee benefit, so check with your HR department to find out if you have it and what it covers (short-term, long-term disability, etc.)

IN YOUR 30s:

Workout: You probably have a retirement program at work or some other preliminary retirement planning in place. If you don’t, start.

If you do, why not increase the amount you divert into retirement by a percentage point each year—equaling your company match percentage, if they have it, is a good target.

Remember, when you leave a job, you typically lose that life insurance offered through your workplace.

Diet: You may not have gotten life insurance beyond what you have through your workplace, but now is the time to consider an individual policy that you own. Remember, when you leave a job, you typically lose that life insurance offered through your workplace. And, given that life insurance through the workplace usually equals one or two times you salary (or a set amount like $50,000), it’s no longer going to cut it if you have a growing family.

If money’s tight, as it often is with a growing family, lingering student loans, and perhaps a mortgage, a term life insurance policy can protect you through the lean years. But don’t overlook the long-term benefits of a permanent life insurance policy. The cash value can be tapped later for needs that may arise. Plus, there’s nothing that says you can’t have a combination of both.

Also, consider an individual disability insurance policy that you personally own and follows you throughout your career. If you’re relying on work coverage, know that it goes away when you leave that job, and often these policies have bare-bones coverage.

IN YOUR 40s:

Workout: Do you have a financial professional helping you out? Navigating the ins and outs of a growing investment portfolio can be tricky as you move through your career and want to use traditional or Roth IRAs, and the tax benefits of various planning strategies. This may also be the time that you can add a permanent life insurance policy, if you haven’t before, which allows you to accrue cash value and obtain benefits that extend later into your life.

Diet: If you’re still carrying extra debt at this point, it’s time to get that paid down. Tackle higher-interest debts first, and celebrate each paid-off card or loan with … a bigger payment to the next one on the list.

IN YOUR 50s:

Workout: Max out your retirement contributions, especially once your kids are through college. This is also a good time to start researching things like long-term care insurance, and to make sure that your investment portfolio is built in such a way that you can reach your goals.

Diet: It may be very tempting to take on a new debt now: some folks want a vacation home, or the time may be right to start a business. But beware of any super-risky moves that can spell catastrophe with limited time to recoup losses, or that leave you with unexpected bills.

IN YOUR 60s and beyond:

Workout: Evaluate your Social Security situation against your retirement portfolio to determine the best time to retire. Understand the “living benefits” of your life insurance policies and how annuities may help you create a retirement income stream that you can’t outlive.

Diet: Is it time to downsize? It can be hard letting go of “stuff” so that you can go from that four-bedroom house to a two-bedroom condo. But the financial benefit of doing so may surprise you—plus there is less to clean and take care of (not to mention the ease of jetting off at a moment’s notice with no need for someone to look after your home.)

A lot depends on factors like your relationship status, your career path, whether you have kids or not, and what your long-term goals are, and these can change at any time in our lives.

The long and short of it is that just as when it comes to “health and fitness” goals, you’d get an annual physical. Need to know if you’re financially fit? Talk to an insurance professional or financial advisor today.

 

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